Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I am out of town. In case I cannot update it, I trust that you keep the debate on.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Good for you Sharif al-Shobashi (the organizer of the Cairo Film Festival).

He notified a Russian film maker that the festival would like to present him with an award, but the "hot-shot" asked for a large sum of money as a condition to come and accept the award, as if he would be doing Egypt a favor by his stinking presence.

Al-Shobashi replied: "this is a respectable event and we are not going to pay anyone. No award for you!"

Ten decent stars from several countries accepted the honor.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"The fundamental sticking points continue to stick, despite the hype over the international consensus achieved in Sharm El-Sheikh this week. These were: the degree of inclusiveness of the Iraqi political process; the question of violence against civilians and respect for international humanitarian law; and last, but by no means least, the ending of the US-British occupation, which since last June's Security Council resolution 1546, has been renamed the "multi-national troop presence". And while the communiqué seemed determined to hedge all bets on these three questions, the statements of the delegates to the conference, however diplomatic and conciliatory, could not have exposed more clearly the deep chasm that continues to exist between the US, Britain and the interim Iraqi government on the one hand, and most of the international community on the other."

Friday, November 26, 2004

"Leading Iraqi politicians called Friday for a six-month delay in the Jan. 30 election because of the spiraling violence as U.S. forces uncovered more bodies in the northern city of Mosul, apparent victims of an intimidation campaign by insurgents against Iraq's fledgling security forces."

the country's deputy prime minister told an audience Friday in Wales that sticking to the election timetable would be difficult because of the security crisis."

TV news report that the party of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Al-Wifaq, is among the groups that called for a six-month delay.

"The minority parties, mostly Sunni Arab, Kurdish and secular groups, made the call in a manifesto signed at the home of Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, who said he believed the government was waiting for such a request before seriously addressing the question of whether an election could be held by the end of January."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

In my posting about the conference on Iraq, I made a reference to the Iraqi opposition. Some un-informed people either commented or e-mail me about it, thinking that I was referring to those who place car bombs in the streets.

Let me make this clear: there are many opposition groups in Iraq that are legitimate and necessary for a truly democratic Iraq. They deserve a place on the table to present a case for Iraq and the Iraqi people, as an alternative to the case presented by the likes of Zibari. It is an insult to Iraq and its people to suggest that these puppets are the best people Iraq has to offer.

Those who kidnap and kill their victims, are terrorists and cannot be dignified with the word "opposition".

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"The best, brightest, wealthiest fleeing Iraq in setback to reconstruction."

What Reconstruction?

The politicians who met in Egypt to discuss Iraq ended up discussing their own bilateral problems instead. The idea behind the conference was to achieve two things:

1. Push the occupation to set a time table for leaving Iraq.
2. Include some voices from the Iraqi opposition.

What happened was the following:

A. The participants told us not to worry, because the occupation will not last forever (thanks for this great re-assurance. Iraqis will sleep better now).
B. Opposition is not good anymore. It is Iyad Allawi's government or bombs (or both).

Monday, November 22, 2004

While money is wasted left and right, and while Allawi and his government are engaged in an unchecked blunder of Iraqi wealth, and despite all the nonsense about money being given to Iraq and Iraqis -- not to mention the oil revenues which no one knows where they go:

"Malnutrition among Iraq's youngest children has nearly doubled since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq despite U.N. efforts to deliver food to the war-ravaged country, a Norwegian research group said Monday."

Although Saddam stole billions of dollars from the oil-for-food program, he still had 4 percent malnutrition. So, how much does the new government, and its friends, have to steal to raise the rate to 7.7 percent?

Kevin Sites, the reporter who filmed the killing of a wounded man inside a Falluja mosque, wrote a lengthy report of what he saw. I particularly stopped at a few points he made -- you might find other parts more important:

"Since the shooting in the Mosque, I've been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw or explain the process by which the world came to see it as well. As you know, I'm not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn't understand that ugly things happen in combat. I've spent most of the last five years covering global conflict. But I have never in my career been a 'gotcha' reporter -- hoping for people to commit wrongdoings so I can catch them at it.
This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this website is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.

But I find myself a lightning rod for controversy in reporting what I saw occur in front of me, camera rolling.

It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me."

"I was not watching from a hundred feet away. I was in the same room. Aside from breathing, I did not observe any movement at all."

"In the particular circumstance I was reporting, it bothered me that the Marine didn't seem to consider the other insurgents a threat -- the one very obviously moving under the blanket, or even the two next to me that were still breathing."

"So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Iyad Allawi is a quick learner, you have to admit. As he had his own blunder at the Abu Hanifa mosque, he said that "he had ordered an investigation."

There is no question that a few mosque leaders from both sides (Shi'i and Sunni) have abused their newly established speech-without-accountability (this is different than the healthy form of free speech), the government should not use this as a pretext to raid Shi'i or Sunni mosques and risk shedding people's blood inside these houses of worship. If they have a problem with a clergyman who broke the law, they should go to his home and arrest him, or summon him to a police station. Raiding the mosque at the Friday Prayer is a losing tactic, no matter what the motives are.

The investigation will sacrifice a couple of private soldiers and spare the real culprit, the one who authorized the raid. Thus, other raids will probably be authorized and more "mistakes" are going to occur.

Iraq is going to have elections on January 30, rain or sun-shine!
Let's hope for the best, despite the bad indicators.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"The mosque, built around the tomb of the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, has stood for 1250 years. When Hulagu sacked Baghdad in 1257, he used it to stable his horses, but otherwise it has escaped indignities from the many forces that have invaded Baghdad. It is the most important Sunni mosque in Baghdad, and a site of pilgrimage for [Sunni] Muslims worldwide."

Let's at least hope that those who entered the mosque are not Shi'a.

-- For the sake of accuracy, Hulagu sacked Baghdad in 1258.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

My article in today's Al-Ahram Weekly:

The Sunnis of Iraq made a historic mistake in not supporting the uprising. Yet a consensus exists among today's Shia that it is time to turn over a new page. The Shia always realised Saddam Hussein was not a true representative of the Sunnis, and it is high time Sunnis realised the same about the current prime minister, Iyad Allawi. He does not speak for the Shia.

"What have we learned from the many insurgents captured in Falluja? A vast majority are Iraqi Sunnis, with only a few foreign fighters. This is an Iraqi Sunni rebellion..." writes Tom Friedman.

Zarqawi, a disabled man, miraculously escaped thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers who have been monitoring the land and the sky of Falluja for months. How did that happen?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Some of you asked me about the comment Juan Cole made on his website. In a posting titled "Iraqi Press Reaction to Fallujah Mosque Killing", Juan wrote,

"it became clear to me that the author had put the marines and the Sunni Arab guerrillas who murder their hostages on the same level. Since I am after all an American, this equation seemed to me eminently unfair. The guerrillas in Fallujah were responsible for a lot of bombings and killings of innocent civilians in Iraq, which involved deliberately targetting and killing, e.g. Shiites. The Marines are, in contrast, a legitimate miliary force that is operating in Iraq with UN sanction. I personally think that the assault on Fallujah was problematic, ethically and politically. But it doesn't put the Marines in Zarqawi's camp!"

Here is how I would slice it:

From what we can tell by the film and the language used, and unless there is more to the story that is not on the tape, the act of that particular soldier, who shot an unarmed prisoner, and any act like it, is a war crime. The acts of the Zarqawi men are acts of terrorism.

Also, we must not impeach all the soldiers for these acts. Every single soldier is responsible for his/her own acts. Previous trials established that war crimes are the responsibility of the soldiers who commit them and their commanders, but not their fellow soldiers.

I think that this is what my good friend, Juan Cole, tried to say and probably did not phrase it as he should.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

When a few Muslims do something horrific, the entire Muslim world is called barbaric. When a few American soldiers commit war crimes, they are called "bad apples" from a civilized nation.

"He's f***ing faking he's dead. He's faking he's f***ing dead," the marine says.

"The video then showed him raising his rifle towards a prisoner lying on the floor. The pool footage provided to US networks cuts out at that point but the Associated Press, which saw the full video, said a bullet hits the man in his upper body or head and blood splatters on the wall behind him."

Another voice can then be heard saying: "He's dead now."

"I would have shot the insurgent too. Two shots to the head," said Sergeant Nicholas Graham. "You can't trust these people. He should not be investigated. He did nothing wrong."

Monday, November 15, 2004

An interesting article on Falluja then and now.

"The British sent a renowned explorer and a senior colonial officer who had quelled unrest in the corners of their empire, Lt. Col. Gerald Leachman, to master this unruly corner of Iraq. Leachman was killed in an altercation with a local leader named Shaykh Dhari. His death sparked a war that ended up costing the lives of 10,000 Iraqis and more than 1,000 British and Indian troops. To restore Iraq to their control, the British used massive air power, bombing indiscriminately. That city is now called Fallujah.

Shaykh Dhari’s grandson, today a prominent Iraqi cleric, helped to broker the end of the U.S. Marine siege of Fallujah in April of this year. Fallujah thus embodies the interrelated tribal, religious and national aspects of Iraq’s history," writes Rashid Khalidi.

Mohammed Younis, a former policeman, said: "The Americans and [Iyad] Allawi [Iraq's interim Prime Minister] have been saying that Fallujah is full of foreign fighters. That is not true; they left a long time ago. You will find them in other places, in Baghdad. We have been saying to Allawi and the Americans that they are not here, but they do not believe us."

Secretary of State, Colin Powell is leaving his post.

This man is really strange. In 1996 he did better in the polls than both Clinton and Dole, without even running a campaign. But now, he is leaving his job as probably the most ineffective Secretary of State in the history of the U.S.

One has to be careful when choosing a boss.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Eid Mubarak to my Muslim Readers. For the rest, Happy holiday season.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

(pbuh) does not go after the name of God. It only goes after the names of prophets, and the Shi'a use it after the names of the Imams. When you see someone doing that, know that he cannot be a Muslim or an Arab. After the name of God, Muslims place (swt = subhanahu wa ta'ala).

I like that "perplexity be upon him" remark. To those who fit this description, I recommend they read "The Guide of the Perplexed", by Maimonedes - one of my favorite theologians.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Police chiefs of Musol and Samarra were fired.

Samarra, you may recall, was just taken from the hands of terrorists, after a battle like the one going on in Falluja now. The terrorists are back. Iyad Allawi may authorize another invasion of the city soon, or maybe after invading Musol.

While trying very hard to recapture Falluja, the Iraqi Government lost Mosul. Mosul is the third largest city in Iraq and, having studied there during college days, I cas say that it is the most beautiful city in Iraq. Its people are very proud and their temper is quite obvious. Unlike al-Abnar and Tikrit, Mosul does have a real intellectual quality and a real charm. It would be a great shame if the city becomes a battle ground, for so much of its history would be destroyed.

Scott Ritter says that the adventure of Falluja is like "Squeezing jello". (Thanks Merry and Shirin)

"As American forces surge into Falluja, Iraqi fighters are mounting extensive attacks throughout the rest of Iraq."

Ritter probably did not see my interview with PBS when Professor Dawisha told the world in full confidence that most of Iraq is quiet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

If you can't fully liberate Iraq, at least fully occupy it, hints Thomas Friedman. He once was singing in praise of the invasion, some of us must recall.

Arafat is dead, Palestine is immortal.

what do kabul and fallujah have in common? (thanks Roya)

Monday, November 08, 2004

My reader, Mr./Ms. Mohseni, had a number of attacks on my interview. He/She posted them in the comment section for the previous posting:

Mr./Ms. Mohseni,
You are back at your laughable nonsense. I normally don't respond to this kind of stuff, but I would like to clear up a few things for the readers.

1. The moderator introduced me correctly as a lecturer at the GTU, which is what I am. As to addressing me as a professor, he is not wrong in everyday situation, where every university teacher is called "professor". At Berkeley, even those who have an MA only are addressed with the word professor -- I have both an M.A. and a C. Phil., and my Ph.D. is due in a few months.

My title at the GTU is an "associate faculty member" (the loose word for it is Professor). Strictly speaking, Professor is a title most university teachers don't have. Just like addressing "assistant" and "associate" professors with the word "professor", adjunct faculty are addressed as professors as well.

In addition, I teach graduate seminars at GTU (to M.A., M. Div. and Ph.D. students), which is a privilege many professors in the U.S. do not have and have no qualifications for. Look at many professors' C.V.'s and you will find out that many of them don't have a five-page bibliography of books, published articles, invited public lectures, and conference presentations, which I already have. You will also notice how few are those professors who can conduct their research in 7 different languages, as I do.

After all, I do not care much about titles and I do not believe that a title is what makes a person important, but the other way around. And I did not want to waste a minute of the three minutes I had on the air to go over technicalities and ignore substance.

Also, when you teach at a college level for eight years, you stop paying attention to the word "professor". It becomes like the word "water" -- or something like that. You do not philosophize it every time it is said. I have honestly put"part" of my credentials on this website for the whole world to see, so I am not interested in false claims about who I am.

2. You said: "Abbas says in his interview that the only condition insisted by the government was delivering Zarqawi. He conceals and misrepresents the fact that the Government also requested that control of Fallujah be returned to the authorities...I don't see it very ethical to conceal such critical facts."

I never said the word "only" in that sentence and I was quoting another person. So your charge of concealment is absolutely false and meaningless. And it is surely not ethical on your part, Mr./Ms. Mohseni, to misquote me on purpose in order to make a false charge stick. And since you are not visiting my website as a friend, you should not refer to me by my first name. For you, I am Mr. Kadhim. Or if you want to address me by my academic title, according to your way, please feel free to call me "Associate Faculty Member Kadhim."

Nothing alse in Mr./Ms. Mohseni's rant is worth addressing, so I will just leave it at that.

I was on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer this afternoon. I believe that the show will be broadcat again at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific Time). I will post a link to transcript later today.

I was worried that many civilians might be killed (I have no tears for terrorists). But Secretary Rumsfeld was very re-assuring today. Here are some statements he made today about Fallujah:

"U.S. forces are disciplined, they are well-led, they are well trained ... and there aren't going be large numbers of civilians killed and certainly not by U.S. forces."

Success in Fallujah will deal a blow to the terrorists in the country and should move Iraq further away from a future of violence to one of freedom and opportunity for the Iraqi people,"

"It's going to be going on for a period ahead."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Pictures from Iraq
(Thanks, Roya)

Emergency laws in Iraq for sixty days. If you are an independent person and want to seek election, you have 10 days to walk in the streets and talk to voters.

If you don't love this democracy, you can go to hell. Now some people might say that this is better than Saddam's days. I say, yes it is a little better. It is a matter of whether one wants to sink to the level of being a little better than Saddam or not.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

It seems that President Bush is utilizing the convenient opportunity of a second term restructuring to fire some people who should have been fired a while ago for their outrageous screw ups.

But some of them are pre-empting this measure and presenting their resignations before they are escorted out. Robert Blackwill, a former ambassador to India, has overseen Iraq strategy at the National Security Council since mid-2003" is one example. Of course, the one who assigned the job to Mr. Blackwill should be fired as well, because of the bad choice. It should have been clear that being an ambassador to India is not necessarily an indicator that he is qualified to micro-manage Iraq.

"On Friday, the State Department confirmed the impending departure of J. Cofer Black, the department's chief counterterrorism figure."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

From my article in today's Al-Ahram Weekly:

"Deputies of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani have warned the Shia of Iraq of the risk of going to hell if they fail to participate in the January 2005 elections. This new approach to politics on the part of the Hawza is very curious.

Mandating political participation in a system controlled by an oppressive regime is alien to Shia thought, unless the participant is certain of a positive outcome. The corruptness of the political process in Iraq is beyond doubt and a Shia participation is far from certain to beget any positive outcome. Hence, it is preposterous to threaten those who do not participate with hellfire. Furthermore, the Hawza seem to be content with the current election law in Iraq, despite the potential damage it could cause the political future of the country."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hungary new prime minister sent President Bush a note of congratulations and a notice that for his country to "stay longer is an impossibility." Check the New York Times article for an update on the intentions of each member in the occupation forces in Iraq.

One of my readers, Mr. Ghost, wrote the following, inter alia:

"...the majority of non Left-Wing Loony Toons Historians will be praising Bush's Democratizing
Actions in the Middle East, his Negation of Terrorism, and the strong economy he built, despite a recession inherited from the Clinton administration and the devastation rendered on 9/11

Well, Mr. Ghost.

It is revisionist history what you are presenting, and you chose the wrong forum for it.

Mr. Bush has not negated terrorism but made it worse, Iraq is a good example. The Administration's own "corrected" report showed more terrorist acts as time goes by. Moreover, the arch-terrorist, Bin Ladin, is still alive and kicking and not even one terrorist was tried and convicted in the last three years.

As to democracy in the Middle East, I have bad news for you. Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan, of UAE, just died and his "son" was put in place. He received many congratulations from the West (including the U.S.) than from his fellow despots. I also was watching the parade of politicians who followed their own fathers coming to pay respects.

Finally, I am unsure about the economy, which is -- according to the Administration's own numbers -- is not doing well.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Remember that a president's work in the first term is geared towards re-election, while the second term is about leaving a legacy for history.

This is the good news. The bad news is that the majority of historians are smarter than the majority of voters.

Thank you, friends.

It must be another Abbas Kadhim. I have not been to Baghdad.

On the elections: it seems that, if Bush wins the 20 votes of Ohio, he would be a two term president who entered the Oval Office from the window twice, once with the help of his friends on the Supreme Court and another time with the help of his friends in the House of Representatives.


The comment above was written before Nevada votes went to Bush. I did not realize that Bush is against gay marriage, but OK with drive-by marriage, so Nevada is fine for now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Remember to vote tomorrow.

This site does not endorse any candidate. I however do not recommend Bush.

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